Averill Curdy on What Brought Her to Poetry
Wayward: difficult to control or predict; shortened from obsolete Middle English awayward, “turned away.”
I’ve kept a diary, more or less faithfully, for over 30 years. I’ve moved the expanding shelf of filled journals between various apartments in Seattle, and then to Texas, Missouri, Michigan, and finally to Chicago. I’ve copied favorite passages from my reading, noted the rare dream, and jotted down ideas, stray images, or lines for poems; I’ve paginated and indexed them. I mourned when my favorite notebook—an Exaclair sketchbook with 100 pages of 100-gram French paper that loved ink—was discontinued. Writing in one of these was happiness, small, but durable as the cup of coffee my husband makes for me each morning. But I never so much as glance at a single one of those diaries after writing the final words on its last page.
The summer I turned 25 my mother was dying of breast cancer. Long after she died, I broke the middle joint of my thumb fielding an easy ground ball at second base during a softball game. The doctor bent my thumb backwards from the break, binding it into position so that the tendon and joint would knit themselves back together, then sent me home with some Tylenol. That night the pain reduced the little vanities and injuries, desire, and self-regard of my identity to kindling. The next day I was able to get a prescription for codeine and the cessation of that pain was an experience of delicious release from bondage. Afterwards, I was able to think of what my mother must have endured without complaint as the cancer colonized her bones and soft tissues. (more…)